Security for ‘Something in the Water’ remains murky

Crowds of people and Virginia Beach police officers in bright yellow jackets cover the Virginia Beach Oceanfront strip between 19th and 20th Streets during College Beach Weekend 2018 (Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
Crowds of people and Virginia Beach police officers in bright yellow jackets cover the Virginia Beach Oceanfront strip between 19th and 20th Streets during College Beach Weekend 2018 (Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH- Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water is just three weeks away, but is the city prepared for tens of thousands of tourists, college kids and concert goers?

Both the city and the police department said they are “still preparing” for the anticipated event which is on the same weekend as College Beach Week, a weekend which draws thousands of college students to the Oceanfront.

The Something in the Water Festival is April 26-28.

Last year, between 15,000 and 20,000 people attended College Beach Week and 58 were arrested.

“We are still working with the city to finalizing all of that,” Linda Kuehn, spokeswoman for the police department, said about a security plan.

Some 35,000 people are expected to attend the Something in the Water event. The number doesn’t include those anticipated for college beach week.

RELATED STORY: Crime and crowds: College Beach Weekend 2018

Brian Solis, assistant to the city manager who serves as the liaison for the Something in the Water event, said putting the concert on the same weekend as College Beach Week was “intentional” and is essentially entertainment for beach week.

When asked if there was a security plan in place, he said there was and every police officer would be on duty throughout the city. In addition, Virginia Beach Sheriff’s deputies would help provide extra resources for the event and some law enforcement officers would receive overtime.

It remains unclear whether the city will be reimbursed by Williams for the overtime.

“There are a number of state and federal agencies involved,” Solis said, noting the police department would be working on the security plan “until the day of the event.”

The city plans to update the public about the upcoming concert once or twice a week, Solis said — more information would be disclosed to the public on April 8 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.

RELATED STORY: Here’s where you can find out more about the Pharrell festival

Russell Lyons, president of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, which represents more than 90 hotels, said they have been working “very closely” with the police department, in particular the 2nd precinct, which deals with the Oceanfront, about the upcoming event.

“College Beach Weekend has become a major concern,” Lyons said, adding he is very excited for the Something in the Water and expects record-breaking crowds.

Lyons said a majority of hotels have added extra security for the weekend and the department has taken some of the hotel association’s suggestions for the oceanfront concert.

When asked what some of those suggestions were, Lyons said he couldn’t think of a specific example and declined to elaborate further.

“I don’t think I would that’s between us [police department],” he said.

Southside Daily requested copies of all permits, applications and other required documents submitted to the city by organizers of the Something in the Water festival since January 2019 under the Freedom of Information Act, but have not received any document.

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